fundraising strategies for nonprofits

7 Creative Fundraising Strategies for Nonprofits

Networking with donors, designing merch to sell, planning the annual gala—if you’re involved in fundraising for a nonprofit, chances are, these types of tasks are perpetually on your to-do list. Despite the name “nonprofit,” fundraising is the bedrock for any successful charitable organization. But in a day and age where nearly everyone is trying to sell something, your nonprofit fundraising activities must be intelligent, compelling, and in sync with your organization’s mission to attract your ideal audience and keep repeat donors interested in your work. How do you do that? Ticketstripe has you covered. Here, we brainstormed some best practices and creative fundraising strategies for nonprofits to keep donors engaged—and giving.

1. Crowdsource Your Next Event

You may hear the term “crowdsourcing” and immediately think of GoFundMe, Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or Patreon, all fundraising platforms where the aim is to collect donations. But one of the smartest fundraising strategies for nonprofits is to develop an audience that feels connected to your cause. That’s why a part of your fundraising plan should be to involve donors and participants in the decision-making process.

For example, you could crowdsource by polling followers on your social media pages when planning your next fundraising event. Provide options for a theme or location or even for the type of event itself, and use those great ideas generated to plan accordingly. By allowing your audience to feel like a part of the process, you empower and encourage individuals to build long-lasting connections with your nonprofit, bringing them back time and again.

2. Make a Competition of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

You’re probably familiar with the idea of fundraiser competitions from your elementary school days when fellow students or teammates tried to sell the most cookies, chocolate bars, or gift wrap to raise money for the scouts, little league team, or school library, and whoever bested the rest or reached their fundraising goal won prizes. Why not take that idea to your next large-scale event and create a competition as a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign for who can sell the most tickets?

With Ticketstripe, you can designate “promoters” who get their own event ticketing URL to share among their friends and colleagues and get credited for tickets sold and/or online donations made using their link. You can also use this functionality for a campaign to sell raffle ticket sales or a straight fundraising effort using Ticketstripe’s donations feature. Curious about these or other ways to use our promoter tool to help you raise money? Reach out to Ticketstripe’s helpful support team.

3. Make Your Own Viral Video

Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge campaign for ALS? Viral videos can help your organization attract donors by bringing awareness and even humor to various causes. When considering potential nonprofit fundraising ideas, look at what’s currently trending and put your unique spin on it.

Is a particular song overtaking your algorithm? Engage your team and community and put on a funny parody. Walk followers through a ‘Day In the Life’ of your nonprofit organization, or create an aesthetic video of your latest venue space. Taking your own riff of what’s trending can help attract new people to your cause—just be sure to include a direct link to your Ticketstripe event or donation page so people can click through to contribute or buy tickets if they like what they see.

4. Customize a Charity Auction

Hosting a charity auction is one of the essential fundraising strategies for nonprofits, as donated prizes mean the proceeds from sales go entirely to support the cause. It’s also a hidden chance for community building: When you seek out donations of products and services that will most appeal to your target audience and reflect your organization’s values, it leads you to approach donors as potential partners who may not be aware of your cause.

What’s more, you can give these businesses a chance to offer unique experiences and gifts for you to auction off—think cooking lessons from a local restaurant chef, coffee and pastry pairings at a popular café, or a gift basket of locally themed goods from a favorite boutique. The idea: Curate prizes that no one can buy directly, so the bidders get excited to win something extra special.

And guess what? You can use Ticketstripe to streamline the awarding of the prizes—because, let’s face it, not everyone stays at an event until the very end to learn if they’ve won. With our ticketing platform, you can create unlimited ticket types, including “winning tickets” that you can send to the top bidders. The “tickets” function like digital invoices for the bid they promised, which they can pay from their mobile device and then use the ticket “receipt” to redeem their prize!

5. Sell Merchandise People Want to Buy

If you’re anything like us, you love representing your favorites—bands, teams, businesses, and charities—by wearing or displaying their names loudly and proudly. It’s also an opportunity for a successful fundraising campaign: Cleverly selected branded merchandise offers a fun way to spread the word and attract support for your organization. For goods that your audience will be clamoring to purchase, brainstorm items that tie back to your nonprofit as well as things people will actually use—the stuff others will look at and think, “I want one!”

If you don’t want to invest the up-front costs of a large order of items you aren’t sure will sell, plenty of print-on-demand e-tailers such as Printful and Zazzle allow you to curate your collection of goods for sale without investing in a big purchase and a warehouse to store it.

6. Create an Annual Event

Taste of Carmel Annual Fundraising Event
Creating an annual event is a core strategy for nonprofit fundraising as it provides a reliable source of income for the organization. By hosting an event that people can look forward to and plan for each year, nonprofits can build a community of supporters who are eager to contribute to their cause.

Sponsors are attracted to annual events, which reach a large and engaged audience. Private and corporate donors alike are more likely to give a larger, one-time gift at such an event—and they can prepare for that donation in their budgets every year. To facilitate sales and fulfillment of sponsor tickets, Ticketstripe allows sponsors to purchase tables online and distribute individual seats via email while giving organizers the ability to collect contact information from individual guests claiming their tickets, which translates into a more robust mailing list for future events.

Annual events typically grow year after year, building excitement for the participants and increasing fundraising income for organizations.

7. Make Unexpected Partnerships

For-profit businesses have just as much trouble getting consumer attention in the crowded landscape as charities have finding donors. Our final nonprofit fundraising strategy: Make unexpected partnerships with companies to share in the joint publicity (and income).

For example, an animal rescue could connect with a local brewery about co-branding a limited-release beer and co-hosting a launch/fundraiser event. Or a food justice organization approaches a local plant nursery to put on an educational event teaching people how to grow a container garden. Think outside the box, always ensuring the optics make sense for your nonprofit—that brewery idea may not be an appropriate campaign to raise funds for, say, a charity that supports children.

We hope these fundraising strategies for nonprofits help jumpstart your brainstorming to create something magical and meaningful to attract donors to your next campaign. At Ticketstripe, we’re proud to help nonprofit organizations worldwide elevate their events and would be honored to help your team, too.

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